Common Problems with Older Homes - LaMaison Home Inspections | Sarasota & Bradenton | Lakewood Ranch | Siesta Key
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Common Problems with Older Homes

Nothing beats the charm of an older home, however when in the market to buy or sell an older home there are a few things you should be aware of that may prove to be costly, unsafe and prevent your ability to insure the home.  Make sure to check for the following:


Lead was commonly used in paint and plumbing systems throughout the 60’s and 70’s.  Lead pipes may allow lead to contaminate drinking water while lead based paint can flake and easily be ingested or contaminate the soil surrounding the house.  Exposure to either could be a significant health risk. And house built before 1978 should be tested for lead paint. A camera inspection of the plumbing will reveal any lead pipe issues in an older home.


Used in insulation, siding and roofing materials, asbestos has been linked to lung cancer and mesothelioma.  Its presence in a home is cause for alarm and should only be removed by a licensed professional. Materials containing asbestos must be handled with care as particles may become airborne and inhaled. Also disposal of asbestos needs to be done cautiously and responsibly.  Asbestos removal in the home is a costly venture and needs to be a major consideration when purchasing an older home.


If the home has an electrical panel with round, screw-in fuses, you will most likely have to replace it with a modern electrical panel using circuit breakers.  Typically the round fuses are non-grounded circuits that could be “over-fused”, a condition that could cause an electrical fire. Most insurance companies will no longer insure a home with a fuse box.


Many older homes are supplied with an undersized electrical service that ranges from 30-100 amps of power.  Since most of us rely on modern appliances and electronic equipment, a typical electric panel today supplies 150-200 amps to meet demands of modern life.  If the new home’s electrical service is of the lower amperage you will need to invest in an upgrade to obtain uninterrupted service and to obtain insurance.


Be sure to check the wall outlets!  Non grounded receptacles were common prior to 1962 and will not accept modern appliances and electronics with a ground wire. Grounded outlets also improve safety.



If the home was built around the turn of the century up thorough the 1960’s it could still have knob and tube wiring in place.  Most insurance companies will no longer write a policy to cover a home with this type of wiring. It was a great system in the day, but is no longer safe and efficient. Be assured that you will have to rewire a home with knob and tube wiring.


All outlets near a water source should be a GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) device.  A GFCI outlet protects us from receiving shocks from faults in electrical appliances near water sources.  If the home was built prior to 1970 you need to be aware that all outlets near a water source will need to be replaced, this is not a costly venture but an important one.


Be sure to pay strict attention to the foundation of the older home.  Over time, the ground will settle around and under a home and can cause a whole plethora of problems from cracks in the foundation to sloping floors.  Tree roots can also create major issues in, around and under a foundation. Don’t forget to check out what’s under the floor!


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